A new commentary in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine says that all physicians should be aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet for six health conditions: weight loss and maintenance, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and COVID-19.
“The field of medicine, despite its prominent influence in society, has invested little to promote healthy lifestyle choices,” says the commentary co-authored by Saray Stancic, MD, FACLM, director of medical education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The consequence of this is reflected in our ever-rising chronic disease statistics, most notably obesity and diabetes rates.”
Part of the problem, say the authors, is that “medical schools offer an anemic number of hours of nutrition education over 4 years,” which does not improve in postgraduate training. They note than in a recent survey of more than 600 cardiologists, 90% reported they had not received needed nutrition education during training.
The commentary acknowledges that not all physicians must be experts in nutrition, but says that they should at least have rudimentary knowledge of the benefits of a plant-based diet for these six conditions, for which they provide detailed evidence, including the following:
“It is time for all physicians across the globe to speak to the importance of diet and lifestyle in health,” concludes the commentary, which recommends that physicians do this by counseling patients, assuring hospitals provide healthy menus, lecturing in the community, writing articles, using social media, and providing commentary to media.
Dr. Stancic will present “What Every Doctor Needs to Know About Nutrition” at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine taking place in Washington, D.C., from Aug. 18-20.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.